Marks Electrical makes small gain on first day’s trading

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Marks Electrical Group PLC (LSE:MRK) has marked its first day of trading with a modest gain after the online electrical retailer floated with a GBP115mln valuation.


Shares were issued at 110p in a placing that raised GBP25mln for founder Mark Smithson, who now has a 71.7% stake, and another GBP2.6mln after expenses for the company.


The price inched up to 111.50p on its first day.


Smithson, who is chief executive, said the IPO “represents the beginning of a new chapter as we continue to scale the business and grow our share of the huge online retail market for home appliances. I am delighted to welcome our new shareholders and would like to thank them for their support. We look forward to working with them in the years ahead as we build on our strong momentum and push forward with our ambitious growth plans.”


In the year to 31 March 2021, Marks reported revenue up 78% to GBP56mln from sales of cookers, fridges, washing machines, dishwashers and audio-visual equipment, with underlying earnings (EBITDA) of GBP7.7mln.


It said it has seen continued revenue growth of 78% in the first half of the 2022 financial year.


2.37pm: Keras tumbles after halting operations in Utah


Keras Resources PLC (AIM:KRS) shares were among the leading fallers on Friday, down 26.5% to 0.0625p as it said plant operations at its Diamond Creek phosphate mine have been halted while funding is arranged.


During the 2021 mining campaign, 8,520 tons have been extracted from the Utah mine, which is owned by the company’s 51% Falcon Isle subsidiary, with 3,061 tons sold since the project started in June 2020.


However, a need for capital to fund Falcon Isle has arisen, Keras said, arising from the delay in commissioning the Spanish Fork plant and the increased costs associated with those delays, combined with a lack of additional sales to cover those costs and the need to complete the 2021 mining campaign before the winter.


Having provided approximately US$625,000 in additional working capital to Falcon Isle from its cash reserves, Keras said it has been in talks with its partner for the past nine months about the capital shortfall, including offering non-dilutionary funding solutions and offering to acquire additional equity in Falcon Isle.


“To date we have not found a resolution and this is having a negative impact on the business itself and on Falcon Isle’s relationships with key contractors,” the AIM-listed company said.


“Under the circumstances, operations at the Spanish Fork processing plant have been temporarily halted until this funding issue is resolved. Having exhausted all efforts to negotiate an amicable solution, Keras has now engaged local US legal representatives to enforce its rights.”


11.45am: Morgan advances


Morgan Advanced Materials plc (LSE:MGAM) is the top riser in the FTSE 350, up 5% to 356.25p after an update where it guided to the top end of its 7% to 9% range for organic revenue growth and for further improvement in margins.


The Windsor-based outfit reported 8.9% growth in organic revenue after nine months, with Thermal up 9.9% and Carbon & Technical Ceramics up 8.1%.


Operating profit margins are expected to improve driven by higher volumes, benefits from the restructuring started last year, and other improvements and pricing actions that it is able to pass on to offset cost inflation.


Boss Pete Raby said, “The work we have done building our capabilities over the last four years has positioned us well, allowing us to deliver strong organic growth and expand our margins despite some of the supply chain challenges as the global economy recovers.”


Broker Peel Hunt waxed lyrical, saying it was a “great performance” and that the company has a balance sheet to accelerate its growth plans further.


“This potential is not reflected in a 2022 PE of just 11x. A common denominator with the better than expected updates from IMI (LSE:IMI) and Spectris (LSE:SXS) as well as Morgan is the breadth of end market exposure and a well spread manufacturing base where in many cases, the companies are co-located with their supply chain.”


10.45am: MyCelx, he sellx


MyCelx Technologies (AIM:MYXR) shares are falling this morning on the back, it seems of some director dealing.


Hal Alper, co-founder, president and chief science officer, earlier this week sold 20,000 common shares at a price of 72p per share.


Alper, who co-founded the company in 1994, still owns 1,242,046 shares, a 6.39% stake, plus has options over 124,339 more.


The shares, which recently reclaimed pre-pandemic levels, have tumbled 13% to 56p this morning.


MyCelx recently reported a swing to first-half profits of US$435,000 from a US$2.8mln loss a year ago, though it received a US$2.8mln boost from the sale of an office building in Duluth, Georgia.


It also said there had been a recovery in financial performance primarily due to an improving macro outlook, with several contract wins announced.


9.30am: Nichols and Quantum Blockchain speed out of blocks


Shares in Nichols PLC (AIM:NICL), maker of soft drinks including Vimto, Sunkist and Starslush, were fizzing higher in early trading on Friday, up 8% to 1,214.75p after saying it expects full year profits to beat current forecasts.


For the first nine months of the year the AIM-listed group said revenues were up 17% year-on-year to GBP107mln, and it now expects adjusted pre-tax profits of GBP21-22mln for the full year.


Sales have been led by a strong performance from Vimto in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the US, with international sales up 36% for the drink that was first created from a secret blend of fruits, herbs and spices in 1908.


People returning to pubs and restaurants are also providing an extra boost for sales, with a 29% increase from its out-of-home segment, where it provides ‘post mix’ of its own brands and others under licence such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Ocean Spray.


Cash generation has also been positive, with GBP55.6mln in the bank at the end of September.


Nichols did caution that uncertainty still remains regarding fourth quarter trading as a result of increasing Covid-19 infection rates in the UK, and said although sales momentum is expected to continue into 2022 inflationary pressures from logistics, labour and materials are keeping profit expectations unchanged for the coming year.


Another early riser was Quantum Blockchain Technologies PLC (AIM:QBT), which has surged 18% to 3.31p after confirming that it has achieved an important step in its goal is to find faster and more energy-efficient ways to mine cryptocurrency has been completed.


The company said it has completed the first phase of its FPGA (field-programmable gate array) development and is moving to develop its ASIC protype.


Currently, most crypto miners use single-purpose, customised ASIC chips, which can perform only one wired function, which is the computation of an algorithm used to extract Bitcoins.


But Quantum said the faster that algorithms are computed and the more ASIC chips deployed, the more chances a miner has to extract Bitcoins.


Initial estimates from internal testing indicate that Quantum’s ASIC prototype design could outperform the fastest ASIC chip in use in the crypto industry by at least 24%.


It said AI analysis also showed its FPGA could become a competitive Bitcoin mining tool and it plans to continue tests over three more months.

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